The Raiders sure don’t like making things easy on themselves, do they? After a quick 14-0 lead, the Raiders allowed for their opponent to slowly get back into the game with methodical drives up and down the field. The game ended in eerily similar fashion to the last Raiders’ game against the Texans, where Michael Huff intercepted Matt Schaub in the endzone and sealed the game. Regardless of how they got it done, McGloin and the Raiders looked terrific for most of the game. Here’s a few key points I noticed while watching the game.
1. McGloin may have started a genuine QB controversy.
I have perhaps been one of the biggest supporters of keeping Pryor under center and forcing him to learn on the job, but today showed me what the Raiders could look like if they actually had a QB capable of consistent throws. McGloin looked collected and poised in the pocket all game, delivering key throw after key throw to keep the Raiders alive through the first half. The offense seemed to stall a bit after McGloin’s hot start, but the undrafted rookie out of Penn State was able to move the ball very well for only having a week’s worth of split reps with Terrelle Pryor. Despite at least three terrible drops the receivers, McGloin still finished the day 18/32 (56%) for 197 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs and delivered many beautiful throws. His third TD pass to Rivera, in particular, was something to behold; he lofted a pass just over the middle linebacker and dropped it right to Rivera in the back of the endzone, a throw that most quarterbacks wouldn’t be able to make. On that drive, all three of McGloin’s completions went for at least 20 yards, including a much-needed boost of Marcel Reece. With rumblings in the Raiders’ headquarters that Pryor might not be the long-term answer, McGloin sure picked a great time to have a breakout game. He looked terrific against the #1 pass defense in the league.
2. The defense continues to put the Philadelphia game behind them.
This win could not have happened if not for an outstanding defensive effort. Every member of the starting defense, plus a few of the reserves, had a key play or effort that helped this game. Charles Woodson came up with an early forced fumble, nearly intercepted Matt Schaub twice, and forced a key stop on Ben Tate on 2nd down within the two minute warning to force a turnover on downs. Sio Moore had a number of pressures and hits in the backfield, paired with a few great plays in coverage, and continues to be the best rookie in the Raiders’ 2013 class thus far. Philip Adams displayed great coverage against Andre Johnson despite being heavily outmatched in size and recovered the first fumble of the game. Kevin Burnett and Nick Roach continue to play excellent at linebacker; Roach particularly had a great interception on an errant throw by Case Keenum. Most of the Texans’ biggest plays in this game were from improvised plays, as the TD bomb to Graham was off of a broken play and the other six points were from a busted punt return turned touchdown. The defense had a wonderful game today despite a very unexpected twist…
3. The Texans’ decision to switch QB’s was…interesting.
I don’t really think I have seen a quarterback benched so seemingly out of nowhere. Case Keenum had a number of great improvisation plays against the Raiders in the first half (reminding me of a more-accurate, less-speedy Pryor) and had the Texans up 17-14 at the half. After a few series of going 3 and out and allowing the Raiders to seize the lead, Gary Kubiak inserted Matt Schaub, who quickly went 3 and out with two bad throws. Schaub moved the ball more effectively on his next drives, moving the Texans into field goal range three times before settling for two field goals and a turnover on downs. It was an interesting switch to say the least, as Keenum had brought the Texans close to victories in a number of games this season and seemed to be better than Schaub in a number of ways. The switch undoubtedly caused some confusion among the Raiders’ defense, but holding the Texans out of the endzone showed resilient redzone defense from the Silver and Black.
4. Marquette King continues his Pro Bowl season.
I’ve been hesitant to call King a Pro-Bowl quality kicker until now because his leg always seemed inconsistent. While he could boom a ball ridiculously far, he sometimes outkicked his coverage and allowed for a decent return. King and the special teams continue to improve each week, as he may have had his best game yet as a pro. He only had one somewhat short punt, giving the ball at the OAK 40 with just an eight point lead, and all of his other punts were downed inside the 20. It was nice to see Lechler continuing to do well with Houston, but Marquette King has proven once and for all why McKenzie was so comfortable with moving on. King also almost saved the punt return TD, nearly catching up to Keshawn Martin at the endzone. Special teams weapon Taiwan Jones also had a good game, regularly being right at the punt returner when the ball finally dropped and having a good kick return average on kickoffs. It’s nice to see his speed being utilized so well.
5. The offensive line, though…
It is tough to see injuries for the Raiders. It is even tougher to see injuries along the offensive line. It is even tougher still when 3 of your starting offensive linemen are injured. RG Mike Brisiel, LG Andre Gurode, and swing tackle Menelik Watson all left the field at one point during the second half, forcing the Raiders to use every offensive lineman on their active roster. Jared Veldheer’s healthy return cannot come soon enough for the Raiders.